Monday January 2nd, 2017

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a reading photo of the week. Here are some displays of previous Caldecott award winners set up to greet my students when they return from their break. We launch our Mock Caldecott unit on Tuesday! I am so excited!

Monday January 2nd, 2016 Monday January 2nd, 2016 Monday January 2nd, 2016

Join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR community has read. It’s the best way to discover what to read next.


On the blog:

Nonfiction favourites from 2016: 10 titles I loved

Year End Update for #Mustreadin2016

Want to join us in 2017? Check back on Thursday (the 5th) to connect to everyone making a #MustReadin2017 list

Celebration: Writing I celebrated a year of words and highlighted posts that told the story of my year.

Books I enjoyed:

We Sang You Home written by Richard Van Camp and illustrated by Julie Flett

This title is absolutely beautiful – lyrical and celebratory, it speaks to the joy and wonder of welcoming a new one into our lives. Of course, a perfect gift for new families.


This is My Book! by Mark Pett

Just saying, I think Pett might have had a little help here. See for yourself! Would be an engaging read aloud!


Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea: Marie Tharp Maps the Ocean Floor written by Robert Burleigh and illustrated by Raúl Colón

Wow. I love when nonfiction is the perfect blend of incredible story and breathtaking pictures – increases the wonder factor exponentially! This biography of Marie Tharp is one I would like to own.


Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton by Don Tate

Truly a remarkable story. George Moses Horton loved words so much he was able to teach himself to read as a child when slaves were never permitted to learn to read and write. As a young man, George wrote such beautiful poems that he was able to earn enough money to temporarily “buy” permission from his owner to live in town and just write. This of course required that he paid for this “temporary” freedom. His master would not agree to allow George to completely buy his freedom though and it wasn’t until after the Civil War that he was finally free. Just an incredible read.

Layout 1

The Marvelous Thing That Came from a Spring: The Accidental Invention of the Toy That Swept the Nation by Gilbert Ford

This title tells the story of the invention of the slinky but also celebrates an entire journey of invention and its impact on a family. Really interesting!


Camp Midnight by Steven T. Seagle and Jason Adam Katzenstein

So what if you happen to board the wrong bus to camp and ended up at a camp where campers got to be their true selves at midnight but you had no true self to reveal because you were really human, not hiding in a human form? Yes, that is the storyline of this creepy little graphic novel that I am sure kids will just eat up.


American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

I must admit I had no idea how this story was supposed to work and wasn’t sure what exactly was going on or how I felt about some of it and then, wow, how this all comes together . . . Kind of brilliant.


The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

I don’t often read more than a few books in a series because I find typically, the story starts to disintegrate and each book can’t hold its own and at the same time, tie everything together. Not so here. I remained completely engaged right to the end of this fourth book in The Raven Cycle.

The Raven King

The Nest by Kenneth Oppel with illustrations by Jon Klassen

Although this book is absolutely frightening, it is also absolutely beautiful and heartbreaking. Highly, highly recommended.


Garvey’s Choice by Nikki Grimes

A novel in verse not to be missed. Celebrate as Garvey is able to find himself and move beyond the self-doubt, the teasing and bullying and the pressure of his father’s expectations.


Reading Progress updates: I didn’t meet all of my goals for 2016 (but came very close) and I am letting that go . . .  Moving on to 2017!

2017 Chapter Book Challenge: 2/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 2/365 books read

Progress on challenge: For today, ahead of the game!

#MustReadin2017: 1/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 0/50 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 1/50 books read

Celebration: There Are Books for All of Us

I could say all kinds of things about the US election results. I feel all kinds of things. Fear. Shock. Worry. Pressure. Responsibility. While Trump truly is #notmypresident, a border does not separate us from humanity. I am devastated and afraid about what is happening in America for all of us. For those experiencing all of the horrible discrimination, hatred and fear in the U.S. right now and for the influence America has on the world. I worry for the American children who are worried. For the children and their families who have experienced discrimination and see it getting worse. I worry for our Canadian children who feel their own fear. What about here? Can that hate come here? Is it here already? How safe are we?

Safety feels turned on its head. Hatred feels like it got a green light. It’s early days. He’s not even the President. People are talking about feeling afraid to walk outside.

To quote Aaron Sorkin:  “Hate was given hope.”

Everything is wrong with that.

I am a mother. I am a teacher. I am a person who has spent her life advocating for children.

I am horrified.

Fear can freeze us. We need to release ourselves. Begin doing something to make a change.

Sometimes, this means something completely new. Yes, do those things. Speak up when before you didn’t. Don’t ignore what you might have in the past. Engage in the hard conversations. Be uncomfortable.

Sometimes, it is to repeat what we know. Don’t stop what you already do to make a difference. Continue. It is now even more important.

This is what I celebrate today. That despite my fear, I am not turning in circles helplessly. I know where to start.

It is in my classroom full of books.

I can walk back into my classroom Monday morning and talk about books. I can book talk. Read aloud. Provide hours every week for independent reading time.

Words reassure. They challenge our thinking. They shake things up. They soothe us and make us question the world that we know.

I celebrate that I am a reader. I know my books. I think in lists. I can reach out literally and find that book for that child. “Here is a book for you,” “There are books here for all of us.” “Read this. It’s a story you should know.”

I can offer this gift endlessly.

Stories do their magic thing. They touch us where we are most human. They remind us to think deeply. To feel in mighty ways.

Our children need this. Time and space to grapple with their questions and their worries. Stories to let them see the most in themselves and in others.

Our guidance.

A room full of books.

This I can do.

Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community!

Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks.


So often I focus on picture books as the place to begin. My students are always immersed in picture books. Please immerse yours!

Today my recommendations focus on chapter books for our intermediate students. Middle Grade novels. These are the titles I want to see in the hands of my Grade 4 and 5 readers and are actually on my shelves (or soon will be). I have read every one and recommend each of them. All of these books remind us, we have no time for judgement. We must make room for kind. We are all so very different and that’s what makes our world.

Read. Share. Talk. Over and over and over again.

Listed in no organized order. I just started typing.

George by Alex Gino


Ghost by Jason Reynolds


As Brave as You by Jason Reynolds

As Brave as You

Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks  and Gita Varadarajan


Making Friends with Billy Wong by Augusta Scattergood


The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly


Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly

Blackbird Fly

Nine, Ten: A September 11th Story by Nora Raleigh Baskin

Nine, Ten- A September 11th Story

Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart

Lily and Dunkin

Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton

Full Cicada Moon

The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy

The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher

Listen, Slowly by Thanhhà Lai

Listen, Slowly

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhhà Lai


 Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Fish In A Tree

 Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate


 Stella by Starlight by Sharon Draper

Stella by Starlight

 Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky

Gracefully Grayson

 The War that Saved my Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

The War That Saved my Life 2

Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle

Better Nate than Ever

Revolution by Deborah Wiles


El Deafo by CeCe Bell

El Deafo

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

brown girl dreaming

Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

Rain Reign

The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney

the red pencil

Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood

Glory Be

Crow by Barbara Wright


Anything but Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin


Beholding Bee by Kimberly Newton Fusco 

Beholding Bee

The Misfits by James Howe

The Misfits

The Thing about Luck by Cynthia Kadohata 


Wonder by R.J.Palacio

wonder 12 for 2012

Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine

lions-of-little-rock 12 for 2012

Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan


The Real Boy written by Anne Ursu

cover.The Real Boy - Front Jacket - 2-13

Shooting Kabul written by N.H. Senzai


For many more titles, visit the We Need Diverse Books site. They are many resources and book lists featured there.


Top Ten Books that Celebrate Diversity There's a Book for That We Need Diverse Books logo

The definition of diverse books on the We Need Diverse Books site is one that I always refer to:

We recognize all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities*, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities.

From the Mission Statement on the We Need Diverse Books site.

Issue yourself or your students The Reading Without Walls Challenge from Gene Luen Yang who is America’s National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature

Number 1 seems particularly meaningful now: Read about a character who doesn’t look like you or live like you.